Discovering a perfume is an always surprising adventure. But choosing one is a strong commitment as a fragrance says a lot about your personality, your mood and your current desires. Intrigued, you frequently ask us if our perfumes are for man or woman. But why should a fragrance have a gender? What leads your nose and your brain to make a difference between a perfume for men and women? Discover that this distinction is actually a very recent trend…
How was it originally?
Although the history of perfumery dates back to ancient times, the difference between a perfume for men and women is actually relatively new. Originally, fragrant products from plants (wood, roots, mosses, flowers, etc.) are used in the same way by men and women. They serve to deodorize, but also to protect themselves from diseases, as we used to think they were conveyed by bad smells. Even horses and other pets have the right to be perfumed. Gradually, perfume emancipates from the pharmacy and becomes a gesture of toilet. It allows people to show their wealth and social rank to the noses of all, without distinction of sex. For example, Louis XIV was perfumed with orange blossom and the Empress Eugenie with Eau de Cologne. Smell around and you will notice that the trend is today reversed!
A cultural distinction…
The sexualization of perfume stems from the hygienism that invaded Europe in the late nineteenth century. Because during the previous century, men of the high society were not afraid to lack virility by perfuming themselves with flowery fragrances! The rise of American marketing in the 50’s will eventually accentuate this gender distinction and the difference between a perfume for men and women, persuading noses that a perfume must be for her or for him.
A recent cleavage, especially Western. In the Maghreb, Polynesia, India or Middle East, men and women use the same flowery, opulent and heady essences. Guerlain’s Shalimar perfume is particularly popular among men in the Middle East, . In Brazil, it even seems that women love lavender! Yet in nature, no smell is by definition feminine or masculine. It is a cultural perception from a long series of habits, practices or symbols, which enters into the customs over time.
Our experience confirms the boundaries of this gender-based process. For more than 30 years, we have had the pleasure of creating fragrances belonging to every olfactory families. Rather curious, we like to engage the conversation with you as soon as we have the opportunity. Every day your curiosity amazes us, and it is no longer a surprise to see men in Kuwait or Saudi Arabia order our fragrances made of flowers as label rose or ïōdé, or to read the testimonies of women wearing alfred kafé or 555.
Difference between a perfume for men and women: a marketing strategy?
Just open your eyes: when you enter a selective perfumery you are automatically directed to the man or woman department. Fragrances are still too often created based on a social and economic profile. The talent and creativity of perfumers must first and foremost succeed consumer tests… The brand, the packaging and the advertising hooks subtly but surely guide our choices according to our gender. When the bottles of perfumes for men look strong and virile with ads spotlighting muses full of muscles, the perfumes for women bear the curves and codes associated with femininity.
Fortunately, according to a study published by the french Cosmetics Observatory, perfume is first chosen because it smells good! Despite the hype and advertising recurring clichés, hope remains! The perception of the perfume’s gender therefore logically influences the act of purchase. But here is a tip: before opening your eyes, open rather your nostrils!
Feminine, male, unisex… wear what you like!
Nowadays, the boundaries between genders are crumbling. In fashion as in perfumery, androgynous or unisex trends are more and more valued and affirmed. The first (rare) unisex fragrances appear in the 90s, thanks to the designer Calvin Klein who created the iconic CK One for women and men. This perfume has been a success with an entire generation and paved the way for a new gender. Today, noses are educated, mindsets are changing.
A fragrance becomes the vector of an emotion, a memory. At Carrément Belle, we always focused on the essential: the perfume, the juice. With our sober and elegant bottles, it is its color that we want to put forward, which may vary slightly from a production to another, depending on the raw materials harvested. The commercial argument is simple: give it a try by spraying it on your skin. Give it time to discover its notes and try to recognize its ingredients. Then see if the magic happens…
After these few lines, what do you think of the difference between a perfume for men and women? Do you feel ready to try a perfume that you thought was too masculine or feminine? If yes, which one?
A word of advice: Perfume is all about subjectivity, only your feeling matters. So keep your ideas and nose open, be bold and indulge yourself!